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Title: Alternative Histories of New Media: Telecommunication Technologies and Media Arts in the Middle East
Authors: Iscen, Ozgun Eylul
Keywords: new media
media arts
telecommunication technologies
Middle East
media archaeology
Issue Date: 18-Oct-2017
Abstract: There has been a growing interest in alternative histories for new media imagery in the Middle East, especially after the so-called Arab Spring, in order to critically assess what new media has brought to the region. As Walter Armbrust emphasizes, we need to think about media historically, by situating the medium specificity, use and impact of new media in relation to the arrival of earlier forms like print culture, or satellite broadcasting in the region. In this regard, this paper puts into dialogue the video works like Iraqi artist Tariq Hashim's '' (2007) that draws upon interruptive, glitchy and accidental webcam aesthetics to express the conditions of post-war Baghdad, and Copenhagen as exile; and the Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman's two short videos from early 90s (while he was abroad during the First Gulf War). This conversation reveals not only how the artists express their frustration with the recurring violence and oppression, and exilic life, by reutilizing the telecommunication technologies; but also how these works unfold the medium-specific qualities and open up the histories of those technologies. The formal qualities and metaphorical openings of the video works are directly shaped by those technologies conditioning the images or conversations, such as phone, fax, TV/YouTube broadcasting, or webcam. Thus, the aesthetics of the videos relate the medium specific qualities to their sociopolitical underpinnings (like how glitches become indexical of poor infrastructure in the region), while situating media arts at the intersection of media archaeological and social-historical approaches.
Description: Biography: Ozgun Eylul Iscen received her BA degree in double major, Psychology and Sociology from KoƧ University, Istanbul, Turkey, and a MA degree in Interactive Arts and Technology from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in the Program of Computational Media, Arts and Cultures, at Duke University, United States. Her research focuses on the reconfigurations of materiality, embodiment and archive at the intersection of new media, film theory and soundscape studies. Her dissertation locates this inquiry in the context of Middle East, which foregrounds the necessity to think together the technical, aesthetic and socio-political aspects of the contemporary audiovisual culture.
Appears in Collections:1. Re:Trace Conference - Keynotes, Papers & Posters

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